Your wedding is one of the most special days of your life, with hundreds of little decisions coming together to create a beautiful memory.

At the center of a day full of moving pieces is the wedding planner. Your wedding planner could be a combination of family members and friends that are helping you plan it yourself or a professional planner that you’ve hired.

On our podcast and blog, we have talked about all of the parts of the planning process, and today we have invited our friend, Meredith Bartel, to talk about how a professional wedding planner can help you bring all of those things together so you can relax and enjoy your special day.

Home » Blog » Podcast » The Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner with Meredith Bartel

Meredith, thank you for being here! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Meredith: Yes! I own Plus One Planning, based in Northern Wisconsin. I’ve been a wedding planner for 3 years now, and even though it’s not actually what I planned on doing, I love it and wouldn’t change a thing!

I started my career in special education, but when Covid hit, I had to reevaluate my priorities, and ultimately wanted to do something where I could work from home. 

I had planned a couple of weddings at a very hobby level for family and friends, and one day my husband just said, “you’re good at this; you don’t want to be in the schools anymore; let’s make this happen.” Three days later, we had an LLC, and two months later, I had an active Tik Tok account, and that was it!

Because of the nature of the pandemic, Tik Tok was how I really connected with people and shared information. Now though, all the gears are running, and I’m loving every minute of it! 

The Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner with Meredith Bartel
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Did you find that your skills as a teacher transferred over to wedding planning pretty easily?

Meredith: Yes! There are lots of natural overlaps in the skill sets; it’s a pretty big Venn diagram. 

I have to be able to make a plan so I can lay out the timeline and then be able to think on my feet in case something unexpected comes up.

Management skills are helpful too; for instance, when I’ve got to reign in those groomsmen! I need to prepare them for what we are going to do. I need to tell them what we need to do. Then we do it. Then I have to remind them of what we are supposed to be doing. I need to do all of it with a smile on my face while being firm enough to make it happen.

Why do you think it is valuable for couples to have some sort of wedding planning help on their team?

Meredith: As planners, we recognize that budgets are different, priorities are different, and those are some things that we need to establish. 

Weddings are not one size fits all, but it can be valuable to consider a planner or a day of coordinator because you want to be present on your wedding day. There are wedding planning options to fit a wide range of budgets. For instance, hiring a day of coordinator instead of a full-fledged wedding planner. 

When you know what your priorities are, you find the vendors to make it happen. A planner helps you not only stick to your budget, plan and stick to your timeline, and find your vendors, but they also help:

Lower your stress level:  The thing that I think is most important on your wedding day where do you want your feet to be and where do you want your brain to be.

As the bride, you want to be in your chair with your feet kicked up, drinking a mimosa. You don’t want to be worried about whether the decorations have shown up yet or if the flowers are looking good. Are the candles lit? Where’s my mom? It’s not your problem, and you shouldn’t be worried about anything at all on your wedding day, except maybe where the nearest mimosa is.

That peace of mind, knowing that all of the pieces are clipping along in the background while you enjoy your day is very valuable. And as much as your mom and other family members love you, they want to be present, enjoying the day with you, instead of worrying about setting things up.

Put out fires: Nearing the wedding day and on the day itself, there’s always going to be something unexpected that needs to be dealt with. You can have the most detailed timeline in the world, and still, there’s going to be someone that’s in the bathroom during photos, or a speech is going to go too long; there will always be the thing

When you lose 5 minutes here and there, tensions are going to rise. Who’s going to handle that? Are you going to walk into the hurricane yourself? Is it going to be your mom or maid of honor? Or will it be the bodyguard in a pink blazer who says, “I’ll take care of it, don’t worry”?

I always tell my couples that if I do my job right, I will have fought 4 or 5 wars that they didn’t even know about. 

Think about where you want your stress level to be on your wedding day and know that even with the best-laid plans, you’re going to have that adrenaline, that nervousness, and excitement building naturally, and you don’t want to add unnecessary negative feelings to that as much as you can help it.

If someone in the immediate family, the bride’s mom, for example, wants to be involved, but you have already been hired as the planner, how do you handle that situation?

Meredith: I really like to get to know my couples when we get started. I hear their stories and what their families are like. That way, I know, “what am I walking into? what do I need to know?” 

Then I can have a conversation with the mother and let her know that I want her to be able to relax and enjoy being there for her daughter. 

First, You always have to acknowledge where the mom is coming from. This is a big day for her! She is watching her daughter, that she’s raised, enter an exciting new time in her life, and she is so proud.

I want her to enjoy that as much as possible, so I let her know, “I want you to have a glass of wine, socialize with the guests and enjoy these moments.”

But as moms, we like to dote on people and be a host. So I like to find helpful tasks for her if she really insists on helping. I ask her to make sure Grandma has a drink or the candles are lit, just something that gives her an opportunity to “host” and mingle without stressing her out with the responsibility of putting out fires.

I’ve heard you refer to the wedding planner as the general contractor. Can you expand more on that?

Meredith: I like to say that as a wedding planner or a day of coordinator, we are like a general contractor. If you’ve ever done a big renovation on a house, you know the importance of having someone who oversees all of those pieces that have to come together. 

The timeline and coordination of the day that’s my expertise. But I also need to know a little bit about everything in order to know what the vendors require.

So could I fill in as a photographer? No. But I know the general time requirements and what’s necessary for lighting and positioning that a photographer might need. Or I might be able to answer some general questions about the floral arrangements or boutonnieres. 

When I’m writing my timeline, I always consult with the vendor teams to fill in the details, but I know enough to be able to put together a general skeleton timeline for them to review. 

As far as the day of event management, all of that coordination needs to come together. The caterer is coming in and setting up; your decor team is here, and your florist is here. The installation for the big seating chart that you had custom-made, they’re setting up here. All of that is like one big construction project, and it’s a really tightly woven ship that requires full teamwork and coordination. 

As a planner, I am trained to be able to look ahead and see the potential pitfalls so that we can avoid them and create a smooth flow.

The Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner
Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash

What do you do if the couple has what they think is a good idea, but you know it won’t work quite the way they want? How do you handle that?

Meredith: Yeah, that is a fine line. We love our couples and love what we do, but our emotional investment in the wedding is different than theirs. That being said, we can see more objectively how certain things will or won’t fit into the wedding day the way they are hoping.  

It’s an important relationship, and it’s crucial to build rapport so that when you do give guidance, they trust you. They know that you value their opinion, but also have the experience to know what will and won’t work. 

I talk them through it. For example, what are the pros and cons of doing a first look? People have lots of opinions on it, but sometimes they need to be informed on what logistics will need to look different in order to make it happen. 

I tell my couples they are allowed to make any choice they want, and I would never make them feel guilty or less than for making that decision, but it is my job to make sure that they are informed enough to make the right decision for themselves. 

There is almost nothing in wedding planning that is thoughtless. Everything needs to be planned with detailed thought, reason, and intention, and we can make almost anything happen with enough foresight and planning.

What it comes down to, a good quality planner will look out for your best interests while guiding you based on their experience in the industry. 

You can hear our full conversation with Meredith on our podcast or YouTube channel. If you are in the Wisconsin area and want to inquire about hiring Meredith as your wedding planner, contact her on Instagram and Tik Tok, or visit her website

For the DIY planners, we have lots of resources for you too! Visit Meredith or The Wedding Duo on social for helpful tips and ideas, or stay right here on our blog to read:

Ten commonly asked wedding planning questions

Navigate the hard parts of planning a wedding

If you recently got engaged, congratulations, and happy wedding planning!

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